How to use Google Duo

Knowing how to use Google Duo entails understanding that Google has silently introduced a major change to the Duo video call service, which now allows you to make and receive those calls from the web without having to connect Duo to a phone number.  We don’t know exactly when this change occurred, but in our test, the feature is already there, although incomplete: it doesn’t seem to work with G Suite accounts, and while you can make calls just fine, it’s a bit embarrassing for others to call you.

Somewhat similar to the old Google feature, but in a new app.  It works mainly across iOS and Android devices, so you will not have excluded friends on their choice of a smartphone (such as FaceTime).

Knock Knock is one of the unique features of Google Duo.  When someone calls you, you will see a video preview of him – being fed directly from his camera – while the call is ringing.  There will be a slight fog on it, but it is a vivid look.

If you are video calling someone because you want to show him something at the moment and not catch, you can also record a video message to him right away.

Of course, if for some reason you can’t make video calls to someone, you can simply call him with Duo instead.  All Google Duo calls also use end-to-end encryption, and the only people who can see what’s going on are you and the person you’re chatting with.

How to use Google Duo

You will first need to install the app before you can start using Google Duo.  All you need is an active phone number to get started before you can receive a verification code. I recommend connecting Duo to your Google Account as well, especially if you want to use it on other Android or Google devices.  However, this is completely optional.

How to install and set up Google Duo

  • Download the application to your smartphone or tablet. It is available in Google Play Store and Apple Store.
  • After entering your phone number, you will receive a verification code with a text message, and you will be fine.
  • Once you verify your phone number, you are ready to start video calls with people.
  • The application automatically populates the Contacts section using the phone menu.

It doesn’t get any easier.  You will also be required to link your Google Account at this point.  If you do so, the contacts in your Google address book will be able to contact you using Duo.  It also makes the setup process on tablets and the web client faster and easier.

How to make video and audio calls on Google Duo

Once the Google Duo app is opened, the front camera is activated.  This can definitely be exciting, and it definitely surprised me, since most other video chat apps enable the camera (and sometimes ask permission to do so) only when starting a call.

The application screen is divided into two parts.  A large part shows that your camera sees.  At the bottom, there is a small section that shows you the most recent contact, plus buttons to create, group, or invites users who don’t have Duo to get the app.

How to Make Video and Audio calls on Duo

  1. Swipe up from the bottom to open the full contact list. You can also use the search bar at the top to find the person you are looking for.
  2. Click on the person’s name. You will see options to start an audio or video call, record a video, or an audio message.
  3. If you call someone and do not answer, you will be offered the option to record an audio or video message instead.
  4. To make a conference call, click the “Create Group” button on the main application screen. You can add up to eight contacts to a group chat or call.

Only a few settings are available during a video call.  You can mute your voice or switch to the phone’s back camera.  Clicking on the three vertical dots opens up additional options such as portrait mode and low light.  The latter is especially useful if the lighting in your place is not great, and it makes the video bright and clear.

How to Record Audio and Video Messages on Google Duo

One of Duo’s great features that make it stand out from the crowd is the ability to record and send video messages and even add fun filters and effects.  You can also send voice messages, of course, but other apps allow you to do that as well.  The option to send one to you is automatically offered if someone does not answer your call, or you can only send a video message in the first place.

How to Send Audio and Video Messages to Google Duo

  1. Tap a contact’s name and select the option to send an audio or video message, or note. You can also attach images from your device’s photo gallery.
  2. To record a message first, just swipe down on the home screen to get started. You can specify the contacts, up to eight, to which you want to send the message after registration is complete.
  3. Simply click on the big registration button at the bottom of the screen to get started. Click on it again to finish recording.

Video messages are where you can use filters and effects as well.  The number of effects and filters is limited, but much fun to use.  Google also continues to offer special effects like Valentine’s Day and birthdays.

How to Use Filters and Effects on Google Duo

  1. On the video recording screen, the Filter and Effects buttons appear on the right side.
  2. Select what you want. You can see how it works before recording the message.
  3. The 3D Effects overlay also works well, as it moves as expected if you move your head.

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